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Submission + - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

s.petry writes: What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years.

Submission + - Total Annihilation devs crowdsourcing a new RTS (

An anonymous reader writes: A group of developers from Uber Entertainment, who have worked on past titles such as Total Annihilation, Command & Conquer and Morrowind want to make a new game in the same vein as Total Annihilation, but on a planetary scale. Titled Planetary Annihilation, the game promises the original narrator from TA, Linux / OSX support, no DRM and modding support out of the box with more to come should they pass their funding targets. This looks like a title worth supporting.

Comment Re:"encrypted" my ass (Score 1) 51

Either way, it's highly unlikely the "encryption" scheme is much more sophisticated than a single XOR operation. Decrypting that field for a substantial portion of the database SELECT statements would be a huge overhead.

Or you encrypt the value you want to look for before using it in your WHERE clause. Unless the key is individually salted for each person, you can do a much quicker binary comparison with encrypted value against encrypted value. If it IS individually salted, you could store a hash to compare with rather than the full value, decreasing the amount of work that needs to be done. As far as I'm aware, performing a hash operation + compare would be quicker than full decryption + compare. If you don't salt the hash, it's even faster, though an attacker would be able to use a rainbow table then.

Besides, CSRs and billing would only need the encrypted data occasionally anyway. It wouldn't be a huge overhead to decrypt if you only run billing once a month - let it go overnight. You could even split it across the month, running portions at a time depending on the billing date for each customer.

Comment Re:Java or Visual Studio 2010 anyone? (Score 1) 297

I'd venture a guess that you're not using:

  • TFS - lag on every operation that gets worse the more files you have checked out, and the larger your source tree is. I've had it take several minutes to rename a single file. As soon as you do a check-in, suddenly it's back to instantaneous.
  • Database projects - lag that gets worse the more complex the project is. Save a file, wait 20 seconds. Save a lot of files, you might as well go to lunch. Don't even think about referencing other projects. And if Visual Studio crashes, you lose an hour whilst it regenerates the database model.
  • Silverlight projects - Start getting to a decent size, and you'll endure multi-second lags every time you switch tabs. Make that double if the tab is a XAML designer. And the build times are glacial.

I should note these experiences were all on a quad-core, 8gb of RAM 64-bit version of Vista, but we had developers on XP and Windows 7 finding exactly the same.

Thank goodness I don't have to deal with Visual Studio any more. It's fine for small projects, but as soon as you start having large, enterprise-scale applications, the constant freezes and lag become unbearable.

Comment Openmoko didn't work! (Score 1) 628

I'd argue Openmoko failed because they were too busy making shiny user interfaces to get the thing working.

It had nothing to do with the level of lock-down and everything to do with the thing not even covering the essentials of being a phone, let alone smartphone. Just the little things, like... say, making and receiving phone calls reliably, or being able to have it suspend and actually work when it woke up.

The hardware wasn't so bad, but they seemed to think that being open source would magically provide them with functioning software.

And on the seventh day, He exited from append mode.